Summer in the City
HULL — Mary Farren had her first date right at Nantasket Beach. They rode the roller coaster at Paragon Park. He spent his paycheck trying to knock things off the head of the Walking Charlie game. They danced to music from a radio and fell in love and got married.
“Do you know what year that was?’’ she asked, reaching down to pat a reporter’s knee. “1941.’’
A couple years ago, their granddaughter met her husband at that same Hull beach. “She’s a pilot,’’ she said. That’s how stories like that end.
There is a lot to say about what has been lost at Nantasket, but music and dancing on the boardwalk endure.
Every summer Sunday, Farren and a crew, who have been coming here since before the war and remember when it was like Coney Island with boats coming from the city, unfold their chairs in the Bernie King Pavilion to hear the band and go back in time. It’s a soft-focus scene, slow and sweet.FULL ENTRY
CASTLE ISLAND — Betty King and her friend Terry Carney had staked out their favorite spot and were watching the world unfurl before them.
Under a monument to a legendary 19th century shipbuilder, the two watched boats pass by — motorboats skimming the water, graceful sloops cutting through the wind — the fancy yachts.
“Look at that one,’’ oohed King, a 60-year-old who started coming to Castle Island as a teenager and grows fonder of it with every visit. “Yes, sir.’’
“I’m telling you,’’ Carney agreed, smiling at the sweeping scene.
A 22-acre state park in South Boston that juts into the harbor and features a commanding five-bastion fort, Castle Island has long ranked among the region’s most popular summer destinations, an urban escape that is close at hand, yet somehow feels far away, a spirited place that seems serene on even the most crowded days.FULL ENTRY
With a sly smile, Kyle Gayle, 6, clambered out of a shallow wading pool, his navy cargo shorts saturated with water.
He had just succeeded in convincing his mother to stop by the water park in Mattapan on their way home from day camp.
“He bugged me all day today,’’ said Donna Gayle, 45, of Dedham, rolling her eyes in mock exasperation. “I said, just half an hour. He doesn’t even have his swimsuit. And he has football later.’’
Gayle watched her son jump back into the pool and crawl on his two hands like a lizard toward the other children.FULL ENTRY
It’s a sultry summer night, and the collision of wooden bats and hurtling baseballs echoes around the cozy grass amphitheater of Fallon Field in Roslindale.
“Nice throw, Danny!’’ barks Franz Strassmann, the coach of Grossman Marketing, which is battling to wrap up a playoff berth. Scattered applause ripples from the metal bleachers behind home plate and from lawn chairs perched along the foul lines.
This is the Boston Park League, the oldest continuing amateur baseball league in the country, and a throwback to a slower era when neighborhood and company teams drew rabid fans to simple ballparks without towering video screens, luxury boxes, and gourmet concessions.
They also had pretty good ballplayers, too.
That’s still the case in the nine-team Park League, where college players, a few former professionals, and grown men who cannot get enough of the sport play a 32-game regular-season schedule at four fields around the city.FULL ENTRY
In the North End’s Langone Park, the bocce courts are riddled with gashes and tiny potholes, promising a struggle for any ball trying to navigate the choppy terrain.
To the novice, this might appear daunting, but to Natale DeMarco it’s an advantage. He knows the faces of the courts so well that with every toss, the ball seems to land precisely where he desires.
“I know all the corners, all the tricks of the court,’’ DeMarco, 62, said in a thick accent from his native Italy as his opponent bunched his fingers together in the classic Italian gesture of frustration.
“He’s just mad he cannot play like me,’’ DeMarco said.
DeMarco and his opponent, longtime friend Salvatore Cucciniello, 73, used to play bocce behind churches in Italy — DeMarco in Rome, Cucciniello in the southern town of Montefalcione —when they were boys.
These days, as the blazing summer sun glimmers off the waters of Boston Harbor, the two are regulars at this North End park, taking to the bocce court at least three times a week. They are joined by locals and tourists alike, who come not only to participate in this ancient Roman sport but to spend time with friends and family in the city’s warm summer air.FULL ENTRY
In the hierarchy of summer destinations, New England’s resplendent array of beaches is undisputed royalty. Crane and Coast Guard. Scusset and Siasconset. Wingaersheek. The surf and sea breeze, the shimmering shorelines. The perfect summer getaway.
If you can muster the energy to get there, that is.
The “jury’’ sits around a bench just off Pleasure Bay in South Boston. They range in age from mid-60s to mid-80s, maybe a dozen on a given day, and they got that name because they have been sitting in judgment out there for as long as anyone can remember.
“We settle all the problems of the world,’’ Teddy Joyce says. “Politics, sports, you name it.’’
He’s kidding. Or lying.
“We tell lies, mostly,’’ says Oscar Kineavy, who says he tells too many lies to give his real age. “It’s all imagination. One guy will tell a story about something that happened years ago, and you were there, but it’s absolute bull.’’
The jury represents one of the great summer traditions in the city, especially in neighborhoods that aren’t known for their backyards. They are a chair club. When the weather gets hot, chair clubs spring up everywhere, on sidewalks and stoops from Mattapan to East Boston. Chairs get unfolded, coolers pop open, and then . . . they sit.
“What time does the tide come in?’’ someone in the jury asks.
They go quiet for a minute. Cars drive by.
“Someone almost gets killed in that crosswalk every day,’’ Jim Walsh says.
They all agree.FULL ENTRY
(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
Over the years, I have become acquainted with the trees surrounding Jamaica Pond, although not intentionally. I have also learned the consequences of ripples spreading suddenly across the spring-fed waters and the value of such nautical terms as “Duck!’’ “Brace for Impact!’’ and “Please ignore that you’re sitting in what seems like a bathtub.’’
I pass along this hard-earned knowledge in the selfish hope that you, dear reader, might stay away from one of the little-used amenities that make Boston such a luxurious place to live in the summer.FULL ENTRY
On the beat
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